Scarborough takeaway boss jailed for burning chef in row over an egg

Djamel Benrejdal
Djamel Benrejdal

A Scarborough takeaway boss has been jailed for throwing a pan of scalding water over his chef, causing horrific burns.

Djamel Benrejdal, 49, flew into a rage at the Eat Mediterranean kebab and pizza shop in Scarborough after accusing put-upon chef Chouaib Boussera, 30, of over-cooking an egg.

The moment of the attack

The moment of the attack

The hot-headed businessman, described as “violent and domineering”, lifted the pan of boiling water from the stove and hurled it ferociously at Mr Boussera, who was struck on the arm and “enveloped in a cloud of steam”.

As the stricken chef screamed in agony, Benrejdal stormed out of the kitchen, apparently unconcerned. He later applied some “homespun remedies” such as yoghurt, onions and honey to Mr Boussera’s “appalling” injuries in a derisory attempt at soothing the burns, York Crown Court heard.

Instead of taking Mr Boussera to hospital, Benrejdal simply bandaged his arm and ordered him to carry on working, said prosecutor Andrew Espley.

The chef worked into the early hours of the morning with his arm in a sling following the incident on the evening of March 22 last year. It was not until the following day that Benrejdal finally took Mr Boussera to Scarborough Hospital.

When Benrejdal heard that the chef had gone to police to file a complaint, he rushed back to the takeaway on Dean Road and tampered with the CCTV to hide evidence of the attack.

He was arrested and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent. He denied the allegation and took the case to trial in May, when a jury could not reach a verdict on GBH with intent but found Benrejdal guilty of an alternative count of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The court heard how Benrejdal, of Scalby, exploded with fury after returning from his local mosque to pick up a large delivery order which included a Salade Nicoise.

He told the chef to boil an egg for the exotic salad but went ballistic when he found the egg had cracked slightly in the boiling water.

Enraged, Benrejdal’s hair-trigger temper got the better of him and he began ranting and raving at the chef and gesticulating wildly, before picking up the pan and hurling it at Mr Boussera, who was caught by the scalding water and part of the boiling egg which melted on his arm.

Benrejdal, from Scarborough, claimed it was an accident and told police had dropped the pan after burning his hand on it, but this was quickly dispelled by CCTV evidence.

The chef said he had been hectored and bullied by his boss ever since starting work at the pizza parlour three months before the incident.

The prosecution said that Benrejdal - a married father who has since stopped running the takeaway business - still refused to admit his guilt and even blamed the victim.

Mr Espley said that just six weeks before the incident, Benrejdal was arrested for assaulting his wife after she came back from the shops with food items he didn’t like. He hit her in the face and pulled clumps of her hair out. He was on bail for that offence when he attacked the chef the following month.

Defence barrister Stephen Grattage put the incident down to the “stresses and pressures” that Benrejdal was under because he couldn’t cope with running the restaurant business and was steeped in debt.

“He had been operating the restaurant for nine months (but) he was simply out of his depth,” added Mr Grattage. “That kitchen became quite a heated place.”

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said the seriousness of the offence, the “appalling” injuries suffered by the victim and the fact that Benrejdal still had “no understanding at all of what he did”, meant that an immediate jail term was unavoidable.

Jailing Benrejdal for two years, he said the disgraced businessman had been “domineering and violent” towards Mr Boussera and deliberately used the pan of boiling water as a weapon, causing horrific burns and “awful, long-lasting” scarring to the victim’s arm.